#SWAAYthenarrative

Please Don't Invite Me To Another Virtual Happy Hour

4 Min Read
Lifestyle

I woke up last Monday unable to get out of bed.


I was lethargic, had a faint headache, and could feel a sore throat coming on. I felt blue and just didn't want to move. Not so unusual given that many of us are confined to our homes and experiencing a flood of emotions. We all have had our share of days when we just don't want to get out of bed lately.

Except, well, I was slightly hungover.

You see, I had been on a virtual happy hour spree. I was on a self-quarantine high with back-to-back-to-back with virtual happy hours — four days in a row. I was popular, and it felt good. The invites kept coming in. Some conflicted; others were too early; some too late. I kept accepting what I could. Between my kids' school Zoom meetings and my happy hour invites, I was having a hard time keeping track. Nevertheless, I was there to happy hour.

Some with my husband, some without, some when he just popped in and made a guest appearance. We waited until the kids were fast asleep downstairs so I could crack open my new discovery: Rose Cider (in a can from Austin, then in a can from Brooklyn), and him with his new Scotches and large ice cubes. I endured ten hours of trying to understand my 7-year-old's assignment of vertices and edges, working hard to stay engaged on a 2.5-hour leadership call, and listening to my kids' rendition of Elsa and Anna while trying to answer a dozen or more emails.

Rose Cider never tasted so freaking good.

The truth is, I had never attended so many happy hours pre-COVID-19. I probably only drank once or, at most, twice a week. And I never drank at home unless we had friends over for dinner. It was too easy.

I didn't need to coordinate with my husband for childcare coverage. I didn't have to dress up; I have been makeup-free for 14 days and counting. I didn't have to get the bartender's attention at the crowded bar (never easy for a petite person); I didn't have to ask if they had a sweet Riesling on the menu or what appetizers were available. I didn't have to save seats for friends, sprawling out my jacket, my wallet, my lip-gloss, and my car keys. I didn't have to be on my "one-drink limit," if I was driving.

I just moved from one end of the couch to another. Tossed the work laptop aside. Hit Facetime. Propped the phone against a cushion, sometimes two cushions to balance the phone just right. So everyone could clearly see one of the five identical gray T-shirts I owned. And there I was, happy hour-ing away.

It's been too easy.

Monday's headache as we entered another week of trying to find our new normal reminded me of setting some guidelines for myself. As Governor Cuomo continues to remind all of us in his daily press briefings, this was going to get a lot worse before it got a lot better. Clearly I needed to pace myself with these virtual happy hours.

So I don't need to attend every virtual happy hour invite I receive. No FOMO. Only JOMO. (coined by Oprah as the Joy Of Missing Out.) It's okay to decline with my deepest regrets.

I shouldn't do back-to-back-to-back happy hours. Never a good idea. And Sunday, well it was still a school night and back to work — I mean back to the laptop — on Monday.

I should concentrate my efforts on staying connected with my community. If we haven't spoken in a year, maybe it's not the time to do the virtual happy hour. Maybe it's a yes to the virtual happy hour if it took COVID-19 to make us realize we should have been in closer touch. Otherwise, we can meet up when we are finally allowed to meet up. In a crowded bar with a bad glass of Chardonnay (oh how I never thought I would miss those days of crappy social interaction.)

I should have the same rule I did with live happy hours. No more than two a week, because I wanted to be able to put my kids to bed. Not sure if that one will stick. But I'll try.

I am running low on Rose Cider cans. So one can per virtual happy hour is a good rule of thumb. (Until I am able to safely replenish my stash.)

In place of drinking Rose Cider cans, other coping mechanisms include re-watching Curb Your Enthusiasm (starting again with Season 1) writing for SWAAY, eating Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream Chips, watching 90 Day Fiancée, trying The Wire again (never made it past Episode 1), calling our family on FaceTime, and sending some cards in the mail (writing cards is apparently a lost art form.)

So please don't invite me to another virtual happy hour.

And if you do, that's okay. I'll likely still accept and show up with my Swell bottle. Don't worry, this time there's only water in it.

5 Min Read
Career

How Fitness Saved My Life and Became My Career

Sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom in order to be built back up again. I learned this many years ago when the life I'd carefully built for myself and my family suddenly changed. But in those times, you learn to lean on those who love you – a friend, family member or someone who can relate to what you've been through. I was lucky enough to have two incredible women help me through one of my lowest moments. They taught me to love myself and inspired me to pass on their lessons each da

If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today.

In 2010, I was a wife, a mother of three, and had filtered in and out of jobs depending on what my family needed from me. At different points in my career, I've worked in the corporate world, been a stay-at-home mom, and even started my own daycare center. Fitness has always been a part of my life, but at that point being a mom was my main priority. Then, life threw a curveball. My husband and I separated, leading to a very difficult divorce.

These were difficult times. I lost myself in the uncertainty of my future and the stress that comes with a divorce and found myself battling anorexia. Over a matter of months, I lost 40 lbs. and felt surrounded by darkness. I was no longer participating in my health and all efforts to stay active came to a halt. I didn't want to leave my home, I didn't' want to talk to people, and I really did not want to see men. Seeing my struggles, first my sister and then a friend, approached me and invited me to visit the gym.

After months of avoiding it, my sister started taking me to the gym right before closing when it wasn't too busy. We started slow, on the elliptical or the treadmill. This routine got me out of the house and slowly we worked to regain my strength and my self-esteem. When my sister moved away, my good friend and personal trainer started working out with me one-on-one early in the morning, taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me on track toward living a healthy life once again. Even when I didn't want to leave the house, she would encourage me to push myself and I knew I didn't want to let her down. She helped me every step of the way. My sister and my friend brought fitness back into my everyday routine. They saved my life.

I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again. My friend has since moved away, but, these two women made me feel loved, confident and strong with their empowerment and commitment to me. They made such an incredible impact on me; I knew I needed to pay it forward. I wanted to have the same impact on women in my community. I started by doing little things, like running with a woman who just had a baby to keep her inspired and let her know she's not alone. I made sure not to skip my regular runs, just in case there was a woman watching who needed the inspiration to keep going. These small steps of paying it forward helped me find purpose and belonging. This gave me a new mentality that put me on a path to the opportunity of a lifetime – opening a women's only kickboxing gym, 30 Minute Hit.

About four years ago, I was officially an empty nester. It was time to get myself out of the house too and find what I was truly passionate about, which is easier said than done. Sitting behind a desk, in a cubicle, simply didn't cut it. It was hard to go from an active and chaotic schedule to a very slow paced, uneventful work week. I felt sluggish. Even when I moved to another company where I got to plan events and travel, it was enjoyable, but not fulfilling. I wanted to be a source of comfort to those struggling, as my sister and dear friend had been to me. I wanted to impact others in a way that couldn't be done from behind a desk.

I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again.

When I heard about 30 Minute Hit, I was nervous to take the leap. But the more I learned about the concept, the more I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Opening my own gym where women can come to let go of their struggles, rely on one another and meet new people is the best way for me to pass on the lessons I learned during my darkest times.

Kickboxing is empowering in itself. Add to it a high energy, female-only environment, and you have yourself a powerhouse! The 30 Minute Hit concept is franchised all over North America, acting as a source of release for women who are just trying to get through their day. I see women of all ages come into my gym, kick the heck out of a punching bag and leave with a smile on their face, often times alongside a new friend. 30 Minute Hit offers a convenient schedule for all women, from busy moms to working women, to students and senior citizens. A schedule-free model allows members to come in whenever they have a free half hour to dedicate to themselves. Offering certified training in kickboxing and a safe environment to let go, 30 Minute Hit is the place for women empowerment and personal growth.

Through my journey, I have learned that everyone is going through something – everyone is on their own path. My motivating factor is knowing that I can touch people's lives everyday just by creating the space for encouragement and community. It's so easy to show people you care. That's the type of environment my team, clients and myself have worked hard to create at our 30 Minute Hit location.

Fitness saved my life. If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today. The perfect example of women empowering women – the foundation to invincibility.

This article was originally published September 12, 2019.